I find when I'm trying to do lists they immediately grow. To keep it short, I have tried to think - anti-viral, antiseptic, painkiller, anti-inflammatory, wound healer/knit bone,lymphatic, nervine, heart, liver, kidney, bowel, digestion, skin. Herbs from both our lists would support all those functions and more.
Re: Your Top Native Herbs
March 9 2009, 12:29 PM
Interesting question, on Friday I was going to post asking people which native herb they couldn't live without? I'd have to agree with all the native's posted so far and would add the following to the list:-
There are so many others that I could add and after a journey of discovery this year I may change the list to include Rosebay Willowherb, Cornflowers, Burdock, White Dead Nettle, Sorrel, Bistort, Guelder Rose and Pineapple Weed, although I'm not sure that Pineapple Weed is a native, but having just discovered its wonderful uses and knowing how abundant it is across the UK, I'll be experimenting with it this year (see my blog post www.herbal-haven.co.uk/blog/?p=192).
March 9 2009, 10:13 PM
My local herbalists upcoming meeting is going to be us looking at Herbs that aren't popular anymore in modern Materia Medicas - We have been using Daisies which has become a favourite for people feeling a bit down trodden amongst other indications and Heather which we combine alot with Bilberry as they grow together alot, So I am loving these beautiful natives -along with all of the ones listed above!
March 10 2009, 12:12 AM
Your spiel on Pineapple Weed took me back to my own childhood. It always seemed to grow by the side of roads and lanes and on the edges of cornfields. I remember the smell. My own childhood memory smell is the Old Man bush that grew on the corner of the cottage which I would always squish in my hand as I went by. We always picked it to go with Dad's sweet peas. I have of course since found out it's many other names and have 3 plants in my garden. I often pick spriggs to put among the carrots and other seedlings to try and distract the dreaded carrot fly and also the neighbourhood cats.(Grrrr...) I love animals but they do try my patience at times.
Re: Your Top Native Herbs
March 10 2009, 2:22 AM
The problem here is what is "native"?
As some know I am building and researching a Roman herb garden and the grey area regarding what was here before the Romans arrived and what was already here can lead to bafflement.
Some (not me) even claim the Romans introduced the dandelion to Britain, which would undermine Kristina's (justifiable) claim as the dandelion as the most useful native herb.
My own take is that the recently prevalent idea that virtually all useful plants in Britain were imported by invaders doesn't stand up & that lots of plants found their way here by more natural & non-human means.
Re: Your Top Native Herbs
March 10 2009, 9:58 AM
Karen - Nice to see the daisy get a mention, my Nan swore buy using a daisy poultice to treat bruising. If one of us fell over she'd get a handful of daisies (leaves and flowers) bash them in a piece of clean cloth with her wooden rolling pin and would then apply the poultice to the bruise. It was then Grandad's job to entertain us so we'd sit still while the daisy juice did its magic. I've no idea if that was what it was supposed to do, but it seemed to work. I had a book called Cooking Weeds by Vivien Weise given to me, and that has a recipe for Daisy Soup in that I'm going to try this year along with a couple of other things.
Jane - By 'Old Man Bush' do you mean what I know as Old Man's Beard aka Wild Clematis and Traveller's Joy? I didn't realise it was scented! From what I've just read it smells like vanilla, although some reports say almond scented?
Jim - How's the garden progressing? Do you still plan to go to see the Roman Garden in Chester's Walled Garden later this month? I know what you mean about bafflement, I was shocked to find that pineapple weed wasn't a native, there are so many herbs that are said to have been introduced by the Roman's as we've said in previous threads that as Anthony so rightly says, England must have been a barren place devoid of plant life until they came along, which simply cannot be true.
I think most people use what they find growing locally in abundance and consider it native if it grows well, I think the question I'd want answered, is how long does a plant have to grow in this country before its considered a native, or does that never happen? If you can't prove that something has been here all the time, even if it grows really well, does it forever stay a foreign invader?
Pleased to see so many people valuing and using the traditional 'weed' herbs e.g. Dandelion, Nettle & Cleavers. This year Dandelion's will be getting some special attention from me, I have several culinary and medicinal recipes to try inlcuding the Dandelion Syrup that Sarah told us about last year, also Dandelion Lemonade and a Dandelion Salve.
Last night James Wong pointed out that Pot Marigold isn't a native, it originally comes from the mediterranean and guess who is commonly said to have brought it over? Yup, the Romans! I think its actually a native of Egypt, so given Rome's Egyptian associations that could be true? Maybe Anthony can enlighten us? I'm now taking all Roman introduction claims with a pinch of salt until I see some evidence to back it up.
I know that Chris originally asked us what native herbs we use, but it is a fine line as were witnessing. I also wondered if Chris meant things from the wild or cultivated herbs? Further curious as to what everyone is using all these native and non-native herbs for?
March 10 2009, 11:03 AM
Marigolds are particularly tricky blighters to track down and I suspect their history will require at least two days intensive research which is obviously impossible at this time of the year with customers clamouring for their living plant material. As march meregall is in Lacnunga, I suspect the name was in Britain before the plant we refer to as Calendula. At first sight Marigolds don't seem to be in Pliny (at least not under their familiar names) which knocks the Roman theory on the head. In fact as you suggest, most "Roman" theories get knocked on the head with a minimum of research. Kalendula does however appear in Matteus Silvaticus with the Arabic synonym of "Karamos" which I haven't had time to cross reference to other Arabic sources. This may lend credibility to the Egyptian suggestion??? They also turn up in Agnus Castus with the synonym "Solsequium". My heart invariably sinks when I see Solsequium given as a synonym because it was applied to so many different plants, all of which have to be waded through to get to the authentic answer. When I get a moment, I will look in Mattioli who comes up with the answers to most things, but its a hefty great book to lug around, the sixteenth century type face is almost indecipherable and appears to be printed on yellow blotting paper so I am inclined to use him only as a last resort.
[Edited to add Anthony's name]
This message has been edited by DebsCook from IP address 220.127.116.11 on Mar 10, 2009 12:20 PM
March 10 2009, 5:58 PM
Old Man was our name for artimisia abrotanum to be posh. That grey feathery stuff that smells rather of apples and also a little camphorish. Is'nt it difficult to decribe smells. Like colours, everyone seems to perceive them slightly differently. Agree with Anthony regarding the Romans, after all many tribes wandered over here in the centuries before the Romans ever set foot here, Celts, Beaker people to name but two, they no doubt brought animals and forage with them plus weed seeds in their wheat and oats etc which were probably here already anyway. It all seems too tidy to ascribe every thing to the Romans.
March 11 2009, 5:01 PM
I've been reading a little about 'native' plants lately and apparently there are 1172 vascular plants which are native to Britain, and 815 which are native to Ireland. Obviously there's a big overlap and we share most native plants with you Brits, but there are actually 14 which are native to Ireland and not Britain - some are traced to the meditteranean and north america (again, it's a case of what do you call 'native'? How long does a plant have to be in a country? I'm not sure.. assume it's a long while thoguh!) and a few can't be explained. I like the idea of using native herbs, it seems to be what nature intended.
Subjectivity of the senses
March 14 2009, 11:49 AM
I absolutely agree with Jane's comment about the subjectivity of smells.
Is there anyone here who thinks, like me, that Lovage gives off a most divine scent that is some thing between cardamom and butter?
It's a regular question I used to ask visitors at the botanic garden in Wales and in 5 years all but one told me I was being daft and that it actually smelled like celery (the "one" agreed with me entirely however).
Celery makes more sense but I just don't get that from Lovage, the scent is so gorgeous I could swim in it if such a thing were possible.
Sorry for the little diversion from the main topic, but I have to know.
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